Most people fret at the reality of getting older, but rapper/singer/spoken-word artist Mystic hopes to use her age and experience to her advantage on her debut album, Cuts for Luck and Scars for Freedom, which is scheduled to arrive in stores June 19.
On the 18-cut album, the Southern California artist examines the long-stemming effects of oppression on "Ghetto Birds," and explores the less-than-ideal relationship she had with her father who died of a heroin overdose in 1999 on "Fatherless Child." "A lot of us in hip-hop who are speaking positively and are offering a different angle, we're a little bit older," said 27-year-old Mystic, who appeared on Digital Underground's Who Got the Gravy album as the DU Goddess and recorded a cover of Billie Holiday's "Gloomy Sunday" for "The Funeral" soundtrack. "I think our views on the world are really developed and concrete, and we feel the need to speak on that. To help change things, I've got to offer a different viewpoint." On "The Life," her single that is generating buzz in New York, the San Francisco Bay area and Atlanta, Mystic sings about the inherent good in people. The song sounds drastically different from the underground cut "Current Events," which featured her rapping and helped build a name for Mystic in the underground hip-hop scene.
Like Lauryn Hill, who is able to appeal to fans with both her singing and her rapping, Mystic said that people won't be surprised to hear her do either once they're exposed to her music.
"I don't think it will throw people off," she said. "The album is really mixed in terms of rhyming and singing. There are going to be people who like one [style] more than the other. I think that they'll be more thrown off that it's a really different album [than because I'm singing and rapping]." Mystic will be on the road this summer as part of the two-month Tree of Life tour with such like-minded artists as Slum Village, Bahamadia and Phife. "I'm happy to be going on a tour that's positive and peaceful, with artists that talk about more things than money, hos, clothes and automobiles," she said. Before that tour, Mystic will be performing at the Hip Hop for Consciousness Benefit Concert for Jamil Al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown) on May 12 at the Watts Labor Community Action Center (WLCAC) in Los Angeles, California.
The concert's aim is to generate revenue for the Justice Fund, which helps finance Al-Amin's legal team and provides support to his family. The former Black Panther member was arrested in March 2000 for allegedly shooting and killing a police officer outside of his store in Atlanta. The case has not gone to trial. Other acts scheduled to perform at the benefit include Mos Def, Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples, Planet Asia and Zion I.
"I'm not doing the event to prove his guilt or his innocence, but to support him getting a fair trial and to make sure that he's safe," Mystic said. "We all know that the United States government has a really shady history when it comes to dealing with community activists. If nobody speaks up, then it just gets pushed under the rug and it never gets dealt with."